My Favorite Filming Locations In the West Country, UK

Hannah Dennison's Honeychurch Hall series isn't the only thing set in the West Country, UK—countless movies and television shows have been filmed in Devon and Cornwall. Read about some of Hannah Dennison's favorites, and then make sure to sign in and comment below for a chance to win a copy of the 4th Honeychurch Hall Mystery, Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall!

Devon and Cornwall are known for many things. It’s not just the delicious clotted cream, Devonshire cider, and Cornish pasties that make the West Country such an attractive location for tourists worldwide. Filmmakers also flock to one of the most beautiful corners of England too—especially those who are partial to shooting book adaptations that lean toward the darker side of human nature. 

When my sister Lesley, who is the estate manager for The Flete Estate in south Devon, told me that Fox Searchlight was filming a remake of Dame Daphne du Maurier’s Gothic romantic suspense My Cousin Rachel, I wasn’t surprised. The privately owned, 12-square-mile estate has its own village of picturesque thatched cottages and a private beach with a beach house set into the cliffs. It also has a boat house—containing images dating from 1880—a sentry pill box from the First World War, and a bombed-out seawater swimming pool. 

In 1997, the beach and beach house on the Flete Estate were two of the locations for Rebecca, another Daphne du Maurier classic, which starred Emilia Fox, Charles Dance, and Diana Rigg. Happily, just this past January, American viewers can watch the miniseries on PBS. 

The bleak, windswept, granite moorland on Bodmin, situated in the heart of Cornwall, makes a chilling setting for yet another of du Maurier’s classics: Jamaica Inn. The latest remake stars Jessica Brown Findlay (Lady Sybil from Downton Abbey) as Mary Yellan. Jamaica Inn actually exists. Built in the 18th century, the former coaching inn is rumored to be one of the most haunted inns in Britain. In a taped interview, Daphne du Maurier said that she visited the inn in 1930 and was so struck by the feeling of menace and the tales of smuggling that she was inspired to write about it. 

There is another Dame who shares Daphne du Maurier’s passion for the West Country. Dame Agatha Christie was born in Torquay, Devon. Many of her detective stories have been filmed there. And Then There Were None (2015) was shot on Burgh Island in Bigbury-on-Sea. Set on a tidal island that's only accessible by sea tractor or on foot at low tide, the property is the perfect stand-in for Soldier Island. The Burgh Island Hotel website claims that Agatha Christie was a regular visitor and actually wrote both And Then There Were None and Evil Under The Sun while staying in The Beach House. 

I could write pages about my favorite film locations in the West Country and not even scratch the surface. From Arthur Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles, filmed at Knightshayes Court near Tiverton in Devon, to the Eden Project near Par in Cornwall. James Bond fans are bound to recognize the peculiar biome globes that are featured in To Die Another Day (2002). And, of course, there is the charming South Devon Railway that runs between Totnes and Buckfastleigh for many of those steam train journeys we see in period costume dramas. 

So what does make Devon and Cornwall so appealing? 

The southwest peninsula has long been a hotbed of spooky tales and urban legends. The landscape is so diverse. The north coast, with its soaring cliffs, is often battered by the Atlantic waves and shrouded in thick fog—ideal for those wreckers from Jamaica Inn to make their mischief. The north is home to the bleakest and most treacherous of moors (Dartmoor and Bodmin) that make for the perfect stomping grounds for those infamous hounds of the Baskervilles. In fact, Bodmin claims to have it’s own terrifying creature: the Beast of Bodmin. Personally, I have never seen it … but I know people who have. 

By contrast, the south coast has undulating farmland that stretches as far as the eyes can see and is dotted with tranquil fishing ports and whitewashed cottages immortalized on boxes of English chocolates—always the best settings for murder mysteries where menace lurks beneath the surface of a perfectly ordinary village. 

But I don’t want to give my beloved West Country too much of a bad rap. There are plenty of light-hearted comedy series filmed there too. One series that is not based on a book but perfectly captures every day Cornish life—including the wonderful Cornish accent—is Doc Martin. Filmed in Port Isaac, the comedy show stars Martin Clunes as a doctor who can’t stand the sight of blood. It can be found on Netflix and is not to be missed! 

I’d love to hear of your favorite filming locations in Devon and Cornwall. Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of my new book Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall, the 4th in the Honeychurch Hall Mysteries. And yes, you’ve guessed, the series is set in the West Country.

Read an excerpt from Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall!
 

Comment below for a chance to win a copy of Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison!

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Hannah Dennison began her writing career as a trainee reporter for a small West Country newspaper in Devon, England, and is an especially big hit with librarians. Coincidentally her mother is a docent at Greenway, Agatha Christie’s summer home, which has been turned into a museum. Dennison is the author of the Honeychurch Hall and Vicky Hill mystery series.

Comments

  1. John Smith

    Eww, is that the real Jamaica Inn in the photograph? It looks so sinister!

  2. Barbara Bibel

    A nice, creepy British countryside not so cozy!

  3. Jeffrey Tretin

    Love British mysteries.

  4. Karl Stenger

    I would love to read the book.

  5. Rhonda Barkhouse

    Sounds like a good one. Cool cover.

  6. Rhonda Barkhouse

    Sounds like a good one. Cool cover.

  7. KGMc

    Yet another reason to revisit the UK soon!

  8. Marisa Young

    Would love to read this book.

  9. Pearl Berger

    A captivating post and I love British mysteries and novels.

  10. pearl berger

    Cornwall is unique. What a perfect setting for the British Gothic stories.The series poldark is set there which is ideal.

  11. Gwen Ellington

    A big hit with librarians will be a big hit with me!

  12. bill norris

    well now ive got to catch up on the other three….

  13. ellie lewis

    This is so fascinating and perfect. The setting makes the british mystery come alive. Penzance.

  14. Carl

    Well now I want to go see all those places for myself. Time to start saving up, a free book would help (hint). Thanks for the chance to win.

  15. Lori Provenzano

    Not a mystery drama but ‘Poldark’ took wonderful cinematic advantage of the coastal environs.

  16. Shaunterria Owens

    “And Then There Were None” is one of my favorite Agatha Christie TV adaptations, ever. I loved it!

  17. James Joyce

    Mmmm… gothic.

  18. Daniel Morrell

    sounds interesting

  19. TAMMY CUEVAS

    I would love to visit Cornwall. It’s on my bucket list.

  20. Mary Lauff-Thompson

    Love the old stone prisons in that area

  21. L

    Interesting history on the various settings in the West Country. Makes me want to visit and explore them. Besides, I do love clotted cream. Would love to read her new mystery.

  22. Sharon Haas

    If ever a place was made for murder it is the West Country!

  23. Michael Carter

    Please enter me in this sweepstakes.
    Thanks!

  24. lasvegasnv

    cool

  25. Polly Barlow

    West Country sounds like a great place to visit; even in a book.

  26. Terrie Ash

    Sounds like a fun read.

  27. Ellen

    Who doesn’t like free books!

  28. Susanne Troop

    Love to read!

  29. Susanne Troop

    Love to read!

  30. patty marsh

    Sounds like a greeat series! Thanks for having the contest!

  31. M Lee

    I’ve never been to either place, but I would love to read a book that takes place there

  32. Laurent Latulippe

    Looking forward to reading this.

  33. pat murphy

    Hope to win a copy .

  34. Terry Pearson

    Love spooky & this series .

  35. Pat Dupuy

    I would love to see that scenery in person. And if Doc Martin or Ross Poldark show up, all the better!

  36. Mary Ann Woods

    Love mysteries that take place in Devon or Cornwall areas!

  37. MaryC

    I would love to visit the area.

  38. Patrice Gottfried

    Looks great!

  39. Kyle Johnson

    Beautiful location

  40. Catherine Myers

    Love Cornwall.

  41. Linda Bogash

    Enjoyed the other books in the series. Looking forward to this one.

  42. elsie321

    sounds like a great mystery read. thank you

  43. Jerry Eaton

    Don’t often read cozies, but I really do enjoy Hannah’s series.

  44. Caroline Lennek

    I find it interesting that Dame Agatha Christie wrote two of her more well know mysteries at the Burgh Island Hotel where they were filmed.

  45. Susan Craig

    I would love to win this – the series looks interesting.

  46. vicki wurgler

    read the excerpt thanks

  47. Connie Houghtby

    Sounds like a good read. tchoughtby

  48. Patrick Murphy

    I hope I win this!!

  49. Vicki Stokes

    Like series books

  50. Gordon Bingham

    Looks good…

  51. Jane Schwarz

    Thanks for the brief tour of West Country and for the opportunity to win a copy of Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall.

  52. Laura DeLaRosa

    Thanks for the opportunity to win a great mystery.

  53. Lauren Guarneri

    Love the post! I would love to visit Cornwall someday. My favorite show set there (though I don’t know if they film there) is Poldark.

  54. theresa norris

    I’ve always thought I’d love to visit this part of the UK and after reading this, I’m sure.

  55. Diane Pollock

    Very interesting!

  56. Thomas Walker

    Great article! Would love to win the book

  57. Shelly Hart

    Would love to travel there! Would love to win!

  58. Melissa Keith

    I’ve been to England but not Devon or Cornwall. If they were filming a movie and I happened to be there I would definitely try to watch. I enjoy watching films shot on location. Back in ’89 I stood and watched some of the scenes fom PARENTHOOD in Orlando FL. Later I met Martha Plimpton. I love to schmooze and name drop. 🙂

  59. Vernon Luckert

    Love a good mystery.

  60. johnna smith

    Love this author and her books!!

  61. Jeana Keller

    Thanks for the chance to win.

  62. Diana Bendiksen

    Very Interesting.

  63. Joyce Lokitus

    I love Port Issac from what is shown when watching Doc Martin but I’ve never been to England – yet! Thanks for indicating other cool spots to see as now I can google them to check them out.

  64. Deb Philippon

    I have travelled to Cornwall and Devon, and, yes, it definitely has an atmosphere of its very own. Hope to win. Wish me luck!

  65. Donmcclure

    I always try to pinpoint the locations

  66. Portia Asher

    I love this genre.

  67. Helen Martin

    Devon is so beautiful. I just watched And Then There Were None. A beautiful remake. I would love to travel there. I also watched Doc Martin
    and was really taken with the landscape. Hannah Dennison’s book sounds really good.

  68. Peter W. Horton Jr.

    Location, location, location! Yes!

Comments are closed.